April 4, 2011

Summer Bobsled Training - by Curt Tomasevicz

I’ve been asked a number of times about our off-season training. With the limited number of tracks in the world (approximately 14) and of course the summer temperatures, it becomes impossible to practice bobsledding year-round. We are only able to actually practice on the ice from October through the end of March. After that, the cost of keeping ice on a refrigerated track is just too inefficient.

We are forced to find ways to improve our pushing ability, without actually pushing a bobsled. There are a few obvious ways to improve push times; get stronger and get faster.
I will spend May through September in Colorado Springs training as I have for the past five years. Our off-season workouts are very intense. They are split between time on the track (the running track) and time in the weight room. Our workouts are a combination of an Olympic weight lifter’s and an Olympic sprinter’s. We need the strength to be able to move the 500 lb sled and still have the speed to be able to keep up as it gets moving down the icy hill before we jump in.

To break it down even further, our lifting workouts are probably 80% lower body work. My two favorite words are “squats” and “cleans”. These two lifts make a bobsledder. Some of our workouts in the past few years have included up to 180 repetitions of squats. A wise strength coach once said that “Squats can cure cancer.” Maybe that’s a meat-head comment, but that is the type of mindset we must have to endure the grueling offseason workouts. I’ve been known to lose my lunch a few times throughout the summer due to the training exertion. I love being in the weight room testing my body’s limits every day. I may not be one of the fastest guys on the team, but I take pride in being one of the strongest. Many of my teammates say it’s unfair because, I’ve been Corn-fed all my life!” (A benefit of being from Nebraska).

On the sprinting side, it is rare if we sprint for more than about 40 or 50 meters during a workout. I know that sounds easy. But every time we sprint, we must give 100 percent effort. And that can be exhausting in a different type of way. People make the assumption that because I’m an athlete and I train for a living, I should be able to run a mile easily. I have to say that any type of cardio or endurance activity makes me want to cry. My sport is nothing but fast and explosive. (Besides, I get bored doing anything for more than a few seconds!)

Of course lifting and sprinting make up our primary training, but it’s also important to train intelligently. We are careful to eat the right diet throughout the off season not just to maintain our weight and muscle development, but also to prevent injury and decrease recovery time. We do stretching workouts, sit in cold-tubs of water (about 45 degrees) for recovery, as well as get massages. I’m not referring to the relaxing, gentle massages. I’m talking about elbow to the thigh bone massages from 250 –pound men.
So when people think about bobsledding as a winter sport, they can now understand that pushing a sled for 5 seconds is a job that requires a 12-month commitment: a full-time job.

In a way, I guess it the same approach as Nebraska corn farmers. A successful harvest isn’t just the result of a few months of work. Many times the difference is done before planting season even begins. 

Watch Curt's training videos to learn about what it takes to be a bobsledder:

Listen here for what Curt has to say about Nebraska farmers growing more with less!

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